Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Any of various tropical lizards of the family Chamaeleonidae, chiefly of Africa and Madagascar, having a prehensile tail, eyes that can move independently, and the ability to change color.
  • noun An anole lizard, especially Anolis carolinensis of the southeast United States.
  • noun A changeable or inconstant person.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun Same as chamæleon, 3.
  • noun A lizard-like reptile of the family Chamæleontidæ, having a naked body, a prehensile tail, feet suited for grasping branches, and the eye covered by a single circular eyelid with an aperture in the center.
  • noun In the southern United States and West Indies, a true lizard of the family Anolididæ or Iguanidæ. Also chamæleo.
  • noun [capitalized] A constellation invented by Bayer, situated beneath the feet of the Centaur.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Zoöl.) A lizardlike reptile of the genus Chamæleo, of several species, found in Africa, Asia, and Europe. The skin is covered with fine granulations; it has eyes which can move separately, the tail is prehensile, and the body is much compressed laterally, giving it a high back. It is remarkable for its ability to change the color of its skin to blend with its surroundings.
  • noun a person who changes opinions, ideas, or behavior to suit the prevailing social climate; an opportunist.
  • noun (Chem.) the compound called potassium permanganate, a dark violet, crystalline substance, KMnO4, which in formation passes through a peculiar succession of color from green to blue, purple, red, etc. See Potassium permanganate, under Potassium.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A small to mid-size reptile, of the family Chamaeleonidae, and one of the best known lizard families able to change color and project its long tongue.
  • noun A person with inconstant behavior; one able to quickly adjust to new circumstances.
  • adjective Describing something that changes color.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun lizard of Africa and Madagascar able to change skin color and having a projectile tongue
  • noun a faint constellation in the polar region of the southern hemisphere near Apus and Mensa
  • noun a changeable or inconstant person

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English camelioun, from Latin chamaeleōn, from Greek khamaileōn : khamai, on the ground; see dhghem- in Indo-European roots + leōn, lion (translation of Akkadian nēš qaqqari, ground lion, lizard : Akkadian nēšu, lion + Akkadian qaqqari, genitive of qaqqaru, the earth, ground); see lion.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin chamaeleon, from Ancient Greek χαμαιλέων (khamaileōn), from χαμαί (khamai, "on the earth, on the ground") + λέων (leon, "lion"). First attested in 1340.

Examples

  • One of the most unusual studies we encountered has to do with what we call the chameleon effect.

    Alvaro Fernandez: Why Smart Brains Make Stupid Decisions

  • Chase and others use the word chameleon to epitomize their impressions of McCain's running mate.

    Jerilyn Bowen: Palin the Player: My Interview With Wasilla's Famous Palin Observer

  • Even the smallest chameleon is capable of eating a praying mantis.

    Chameleons Have a Nasty Nip

  • He cried aloud when he was referred to as a chameleon.

    Voices Carry

  • Madam Rosamond Cavendish was, I suppose, a beauty, though after a strange and curious fashion, being seemingly dependent upon those around her for it, as a chameleon is dependent for his colour upon his surroundings.

    The Heart's Highway: A Romance of Virginia in the Seventeenth Century

  • The next chapter in the life of the quintessentially English character of James Bond will be penned by U.S. author Jeffery Deaver, who believes he has the "chameleon" - like qualities to get inside 007's head.

    Jeffery Deaver To Author New James Bond

  • The next chapter in the life of the quintessentially English character of James Bond will be penned by U.S. author Jeffery Deaver, who believes he has the "chameleon" - like qualities to get inside 007's head.

    Jeffery Deaver To Author New James Bond

  • ▌ Street smart There are several personality traits that are different and distinct to a successful profile as CPO - so many, in fact, that an effective CPO arguably needs to be a 'chameleon': PERSONALITY TRAITS Of A CPO ▌ 'natural' trading skills People who can successfully master this kind of 'chameleon' - ▌ Highly logical thinking capability like range of traits will invariably possess a highly developed eQ.

    Recently Uploaded Slideshows

  • Doctor Covington had just turned sixty, but still had a full head of what Mother called chameleon hair.

    Olivia

  • Doctor Covington had just turned sixty, but still had a full head of what Mother called chameleon hair.

    Olivia

Comments

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  • "'I'm going now, and you can vote. But remember, you are all potentially chameleons of the spirit, and thus of all the illusions that rob men of their divinity this is the cruelest; to call the rocklike burdensome shell of 'character' and 'individuality' man's greatest development. It's like praising a boat for its anchor.'"

    - 'The Dice Man', Luke Rhinehart.

    February 4, 2008

  • The chameleon changes his colour;

    He can look like a tree or a wall;

    He is timid and shy and hates to be seen,

    So he simply sits down on the grass and grows green,

    And pretends he is nothing at all.

    - A. P. Herbert, 'The Chameleon'.

    November 8, 2008